On Sunday, the head of an Arizona newspaper that endorsed Hillary Clinton revealed some of the threats that she and her staff have received from angry Trump supporters and resolved to stand firm.
Republic Media president Mi-Ai Parrish spoke to CNN Money’s Jill Disis about the backlash the Arizona Republic newspaper has weathered since it endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“We’re being targeted … it’s not the America I know. It’s not the democracy I love,” she said.
“As someone who has spent a career in the business of words, it’s unusual to find myself speechless,” Parrish wrote in an op-ed published this weekend. “What is the correct response, really, to this?”
She then published some of the hateful phrases that have been directed at her and the Republic staff since the traditionally conservative newspaper declined to endorse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump:
YOU’RE DEAD. WATCH YOUR BACK.
WE WILL BURN YOU DOWN.
YOU SHOULD BE PUT IN FRONT OF A FIRING SQUAD AS A TRAITOR.
The newspaper, said CNN, has been deluged with threatening calls. Some callers referenced the murder of Republic reporter Dan Bolles, who was killed with a car bomb in 1976. The killing was never solved, but Bolles’ last word was “mafia.” He had reported on organized crime in the past.
The caller, wrote Parrish, spoke to a Republic staffer named Kimberly and told her that more reporters will be “blown up” because the newspaper endorsed a Democrat.
“She sat in my office and calmly told three Phoenix police detectives what you had said,” Parrish told the anonymous caller. “She told them that later, she walked to church and prayed for you. Prayed for patience, for forgiveness. Kimberly knows free speech requires compassion.”
“I absolutely welcome debate and free expression, and I will protect and uphold the right of people to say ugly things to me. That’s part of how this works,” Parrish said, but the “horrifying” call went beyond the pale and sets a precedent that she finds “incredibly dangerous.”
She explained that young people selling Republic subscriptions door-to-door have been spit on and yelled at.
She went on to invoke her own family history.
“To those of you who have said Jesus will judge me, that you hope I burn in hell, that non-Christians should be kept out of our country, I give you my pastor grandfather,” she said.
“Much as my grandfather taught, I also know there are a lot of things worth standing up for.”
Her grandfather, she said, was imprisoned and tortured for his Christian faith. Her mother grew up under a dictatorship. The violent threats, heated rhetoric and vicious name-calling, she said, has only made her more confident in the Republic’s decision not to endorse Trump, who the editors called “no qualified” and “not conservative.”
She commended her staff’s talent and courage and said, “I’m just honored to stand by their side.”
The Republic is Arizona’s largest newspaper and has never previously endorsed a Democrat for president. The editorial board joined other conservative newspapers that ultimately declined to fall in behind the Republican Party’s nominee.